any day now.

This is the first time since entering my third trimester that I’ve had the chance to sit down and write. Yet here I am, 37 weeks, 4 days. Dilated at a “5cm+.” Increased Braxton Hicks and practice labor three of the last four days. Hospital bags packed. I’m sitting in Eliza’s almost-finished nursery while Lydia sleeps. I’m sitting in here trying to process the reality that we’ve finally hit the any day now stage of pregnancy. Kevin, Lydia and my world is about to change… any day now.

It’s been a challenging last few months. This pregnancy, by far, has been worse on my body than my first. Braxton Hicks and piercing abdomen cramps wake me up at night. One night, I felt paralyzed laying on my back and couldn’t move for several minutes, panicking to tears and waking up my husband who proceeded to lift me to an upright position through piercing pain and coach me through breathing until the cramping went away. Daily I’ve been pushing through hemorrhoids, heartburn, pelvic pressure, fatigue, and not to mention seasonal colds and a teething toddler.

I’m ashamed to admit that there’ve been moments where I’ve longed for the days of not being pregnant more than the day that I will meet this precious little girl growing inside of me. It’s hard to bring attention to a child inside of me that I can’t see, and much easier to bring my attention to the discomfort I’m feeling. I remember confessing this to God one day as I clung to the words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

There have been days where I physically feel like my body is wasting away and breaking down. On the harder days, I praise God for practical truth that reminds me to

bring my attention
not to the physical
to what is seen
what is temporary,
but to the spiritual
what is unseen
what is eternal.

He promises us that our light and momentary afflictions are actually preparing us for eternal glory beyond all comparison. We may feel, emotionally or physically, the brokenness of sin in our world, but He has promised to renew our Spirit within us, every day, as we cling to Him.

And He is a God who is faithful to fulfill His good promises.

 

J O Y F U L . P R O M I S E .

Does this sub-title look familiar? If you read my post Naming Eliza Rose, you’ll recall that Eliza’s name means “joyful promise.” This has been a season of choosing joy as I cling to His promises.

About a month ago, we had the privilege of taking a family vacation to the beach for a long weekend of rest, to slow down, and treasure our last few weeks as a family of three before Eliza makes her arrival. With family help and an automatic-reply email set up for work, I fully unplugged and spent much needed quality time with the Lord through the weekend. One day while overlooking the ocean waves, I found myself in 1 Kings 8 when King Solomon dedicates the temple after the process of building it was finally complete. In a lengthy sermon, Solomon again and again echoes praises to God for fulfilling His promises. God had promised to David that his son, Solomon, would be king, and that Solomon would see the temple completed during his reign. Solomon is full of joy as he meditates on how God fulfilled this promise!

I paused from my reading and thought of my Eliza, being reminded in this story of the meaning behind her name. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for her, that she would have the gift of wisdom like Solomon and have eyes to see the way that God fulfills His promises. I prayed that she would know and trust fully in the joy of His promises.

I’m not one to ask for a sign much, but I felt the urge to open-handedly pray, “God, if this is from you, would Eliza move right now?”

Immediately after praying that prayer, I felt her move in my womb.

Overcome with peace and comfort, I continued to pray for her and also praise God that He felt so real in that moment. As I sat to finish 1 Kings 8, I came to verse 56:

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise…”

As if to just lavish me with His love, unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon a mirror image verse of Joshua 23:14…

The verse I read the morning after we found out we were having a girl.
The verse I read while contemplating the name Eliza Rose, which means joyful promise.
The verse I wrote about in my post 3 months before this moment.
The verse that sealed her name.

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”

I sat in awe.

In an incredibly busy third trimester that included three weeks of travel, work events and deadlines, and a sprint to the end—a third trimester that has taken a beating on my body—it’s been these quiet moments of overwhelming peace, hope, and joy that have gotten me through.

 

S H E . W H O . B E L I E V E S .

As Kevin and I place the finishing touches on Eliza’s nursery, we picked out the verse that will hang above her crib. We hope that Eliza will keep this piece of art with her when she moves out of our house one day—yet even more—we hope and pray that this verse will be on her heart for all of eternity. It’s the second verse I mentioned in my previous post as we were in the process of naming Eliza. It echoes the words of Elizabeth as she greets her sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, our Savior and Messiah, in Luke 1:45:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

The word believed will be emphasized as an encouragement that we must choose to believe, to trust, to have faith, even when the promise is yet unseen. We must choose hope and choose truth in any season of waiting. And blessed will we be on the day when we get to look back and say not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord my God promised! All have come to pass, not one of them has failed.

So here I sit.
Waiting.
Praising.
Hopeful.
Joyful.
The wait is almost over, any day now.

I am choosing to trust God’s timing, not my own, not my doctor’s, not what other people say based on my dilation or contractions or due date. God alone is the author of her birth story. In His perfect time, in His perfect will, Eliza Rose, we are ready to meet you.

it is well.

Motherhood is sanctifying.

In the midnight hour on July 31, I had the privilege of being in the delivery room with one of my best friends, Keely. Over the last three years, I’ve walked with her through three miscarriages. Countless prayers had gotten us to that moment.

Lord, please, let her hold her baby.

Finally
her water broke
her labor began
and
there we were
at last
this momma would hold her baby.

While up until that moment in time she had yet to meet one of her babies, Keely had already experienced sanctification through motherhood. Your lack of control hits you within moments after learning about a pregnancy, and for many of us, it brings us to a place of utter dependence on the Lord. Through Keely’s pregnancy loss, God had changed her. In a time when she easily could have run away from God, she ran to Him. She chose faith and trust. Her journey brought us to this sweet moment during her labor that I will never forget.

I had stepped in at Keely’s side to give her husband Kyle a break as they prepared for a long night ahead of labor. While we laughed and danced in the waiting at first, contractions had started picking up. The mood in the room had changed but we were still at the point in labor where we could talk for the few minutes between contractions. I pulled up her premade labor playlist and the first worship song came on: It is well.

Keely shared how this song had carried her through her miscarriages. We took a moment, even in the midst of her labor and excitement, to grieve the loss of the three babies that she would never hold in this lifetime. As painful as labor is, she grieved that she wasn’t able to experience the pain of childbearing with her first three. We imagined what it would be like to hold her babies in heaven. We imagined how proud they were of their momma in this moment, having chosen to place her faith in the Lord and trust Him in the unknown.

Through tears, we listened to the words of the song as her next contraction came on. “Even through it all,” Keely whispered. “It is well.”

 

P E A C E . I N . P R O C E S S .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

Here’s what I mean. Sanctification is this process that the Bible refers to as the time between salvation (justification) and the moment when we are restored to new life in Christ for eternity (glorification). Sanctification is the in-between, it’s the process of being made holy. While we are a new creation in Christ at salvation because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Lord still has a lot of work to do on our sinful hearts and flesh. And this doesn’t happen overnight. For most of us it’s a painful, long process of being made holy.

The hope of sanctification is that the longer we walk with Christ, the more we should look like Him. I have learned that God is much more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. Along the way we think we want happiness but really, our deepest desire is peace. Sanctification is the smoothing off of our rough edges and letting the desires of our heart become God’s will for our lives. It’s the pruning of dead branches, so that we can bear more fruit, and fruit that will last. It’s finding peace in our circumstances of this life, knowing that our hope rests in a Good Father who will come and redeem all the brokenness, guilt, and shame we feel and restore all of creation to perfection. Sanctification is the painful process of letting go—and letting God.

I wish I could say that things have been all rainbows and butterflies since the moment when Keely finally held her daughter, Emmaline Grace. But the next trial we will face in this life is always right around the corner. In baby Emmaline’s first month of life, Keely’s had to deal with the challenges of having a newborn and learning to nurse in the midst of Emmaline having a benign tumor on her gum and undergoing surgery at 4 weeks old. God is not done with Keely’s story yet, and neither is He done with ours.

 

I T . I S . W E L L .

Motherhood is sanctifying.

A few weeks ago, I had my own sanctifying motherhood moment. Caught between the demands of work, ministry, and our busy lives, I realized that I was not giving my daughter Lydia the attention that she deserves. In the middle of transitioning her from a morning nap ready to rush her to my parent’s house so I could get more work done, the voice of mom-guilt came in my head, accusing me of being a bad mom.

I stopped. I looked at Lydia and asked her, “Do you think I’m a bad mom?” Knowing that Lydia couldn’t answer that question, I broke down into tears. My 15-month-old daughter ran into my arms and hugged me. I picked her up and my little girl didn’t stop hugging me back for several minutes as we walked up and down the hallway. She continued hugging me until my tears finally quieted. She didn’t need to have words in that moment, she communicated everything that I needed. The Lord reminded me through my daughter that I was doing my best, and that Lydia loved me not based on “how I did as a mom that day.” She loved me because I am her momma. The same is true with God. He doesn’t love me based on “how I did as a Christian that day.” He loves me because I am His daughter.

The Lord used Lydia to encourage me to find peace in the process.

This life that my toddler and I live together isn’t going to be easy. I hear from other mommas that it only gets harder. I’m going to be an imperfect mom, and Lydia is an imperfect child. We are going to hurt each other. We are going to let each other down. We are going to have moments where we say, “I’m sorry” and ask each other for forgiveness. Yet through every trial, every mistake, every burst of anger, every moment we can’t control, and even the most joyful moments that we can’t slow down—through it all—we are being sanctified.

When I say that motherhood is sanctifying, what I mean is that motherhood brings out all the ways we fall short on our own efforts. Motherhood brings out our flaws and imperfections whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Yet God uses motherhood to refine us, to make us more dependent on Christ, and to therefore become more like Him as we choose to place our trust in Him.

It is sanctification that brings us to a place where we can say, no matter my circumstances, I have peace. God is good. He will redeem.

Through it all — it is well.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

may is here.

May is here.

The month we’ve waiting for. The month of the due date for our first child.

At 37 weeks on Monday, medically I am considered full-term. Baby Lydia is fully developed at this point. She’s dropped into the head down position and I’m dilated 2 centimeters and 80 percent effaced. Now it’s just a waiting game.

Apparently I look 8 ½ months pregnant because how big I am tends to dominate my every conversation with friends, coworkers and strangers. One of the common questions I recieve on a daily basis is, Are you ready? That’s a tough question to answer.

Sometimes I answer with an quick yes.
Kevin and I are so excited to be parents!
We can’t wait to meet Lydia!
We have all the items we need, the hospital bag packed, and our to-do lists completed.
We are ready for her, any day now!

And then occasionally someone will ask me on a day when I’m feeling a bit more realistic. I might answer with an as ready as I can be, honestly doubting that achieving the state of “readiness” is even possible.

The conversation typically continues with people offering their best advice or words of wisdom.

You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
Your life is about to change forever.
You’ll regret not having an epidural, you’re submitting yourself to torture.
Natural birth is the best choice I ever made, it’s wonderful.
Being a parent is amazing.
Your life is over.
You’ll love being a mom!
Are you sure you’re ready to be a mom?

 

C H A N G E .

I’ve been through various changes and transitions in my life, but never one so physically obvious to others. Strangers take one look at me and know that I’m getting ready to embark on one of the biggest “changes” that anyone can go through.

Here’s the deal. While I’m still on the waiting side of motherhood, if there is anything that I’ve learned in my short 27 years of life it’s this: There are only two constants in life, God and change.

“For I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

God is who He says He is. He is unchanging, unwavering, eternal. Thank the Lord there is One who is consistent and One who never changes!

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

The only other thing that is certain is that change will happen. It is an inevitable part of human life. Most of us naturally avoid change and anticipate change as a bad thing. Yet often, it’s unavoidable and out of our control. However, change is the only way that we grow and are challenged to become more of the humans that we were ultimately created to be.

 

T R A N S F O R M .

The other known thing about change is that usually we will first try to manage it on our own without God. Here I am, weeks or possibly days away from the biggest change of my life, and I am finding much of my confidence in the to-do lists, the preparations, and my own physical body.

At our doctor’s appointment last week, I found out that Lydia has dropped into the perfect head down position. I got the numbers on the dilation and effacement, and I left my appointment elated by my own self-righteousness, thinking I’m good to go. My body is built for childbirth. (I am honestly embarrassed to type out those thoughts but truly that’s what was going through my mind!) Then the next day I got a phone call from my doctor’s office that I tested positive for group B Strep, which means that I’ll need an antibiotic as soon as I go into labor so it’s not passed on to Lydia when she’s born. I got off the phone and immediately realized that this diagnosis actually was a blessing. I needed a direct reminder from God that no, it’s not up to my physical body how my child birth will go. It’s not up to the preparations I’ve made for labor. Her healthy delivery is completely and wholly in God’s control.

The next day I was reading Philippians 3 and found affirmation in God’s voice from the following scripture:

“We… worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)

My confidence is not in my physical body or the current state of baby Lydia. My confidence is in the Lord, His goodness and His promises.

Though my flesh is weak, His Spirit is strong in me (Matthew 26:40).
He will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
He will transform our hearts and minds to be like that of Christ (Romans 12:2).
In the hard and the dark moments of childbirth and parenting, I don’t have to fear or have anxiety, because I rely on the Holy Spirit.
He will intervene in those difficult moments giving me discernment and strength.
I don’t have to fear change because of God’s promise to never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:15, Hebrews 13:5).
He will be with me always (Matthew 28:20).

“God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)

This is why I think of this upcoming season less as merely change and more as an opportunity for God to transform me into the woman that He has ultimately created me to be.

 

P R E S S . O N .

In confidence, because I know that God is with me and in me, as May is here, I have the great privilege of living out this commision:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss of the sake of Christ…. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14)

I’ll end with this. Perhaps one of the most cliché Bible verses about having a child says that every good and perfect gift comes from above. This is true! Lydia is a gift from God above! Yet read the second half of the verse and take comfort. In this life we will change, but God, thank God, You never will.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

one month left.

Her due date is May 21, 2018. One month to go.

One more month of preparations.
One more month of pregnancy.
One more month of anticipation.
One more month until we meet baby Lydia Evelyn.

Thank you God.

I do enough thinking about the things I have left to do in the next month, what labor and delivery will be like, or what life will be like when we come home from the hospital. So with this entry I want to prioritize looking in my rearview mirror at what has passed behind me, to share and to celebrate all that God has done in the past eight months.

 

D E S P E R A T E . D E P E N D E N C E .

The Lord has taught me much about myself and my desperate dependence on Him.

After finding out we were pregnant, there was much joy but also much fear. Recently walking through multiple miscarriages with my best friend, I knew that our baby’s health was nothing but guaranteed. Every day was a gift. Some days I would feel cramps or pain, unsure if that was normal or the first sign of loss. Then there was the day I saw spotting of blood while at work. I returned to my office from the bathroom, closed my door, and just cried. After calling my doctor and urgently leaving the office for blood work at the hospital, I began to realize that this was only just the beginning of motherhood. I desperately wanted to take control of keeping this little life safe yet felt utterly helpless in my quest.

Sure, I can avoid certain foods and drinks, take my prenatals and stay active. But ultimately her entire health, her entire life, is in God’s hands. I am desperately dependent, every single day.

For the first trimester, I saw hardly any changes to my body and just felt sick all the time. A few months later I started feeling better, yet still little changes as I passed my 16-week milestone. The fact that I was pregnant became surreal because the initial excitement and announcing the news ended and life was continuing on as normal. The rush of the holidays took over as another semester ended, I turned another year older, and my husband and I started to pack our bags for the drive from Lawrence to spend Christmas in Dallas with family.

While packing for the trip, I was texting a friend who is also pregnant. She had just returned from the hospital after an emergency sonogram revealed a infection in her uterus. I pressed “send” on a text that looked something like:

In the midst of your scare, it’s just a reminder that God is in control.
He has our babies’ days numbered.
They are His.

In that same moment, I felt Lydia kick for the first time! I collapsed on my bed, not out of pain, but out of complete shock. It was as if she was responding by the very same breath:

Mommy.
I am here.
Trust Jesus with my life.

 

J O Y . A N D . R E L I E F .

The next day, Kevin and I loaded our Christmas gifts, our suitcases, and our dog Titan for the trek down to Dallas. To pass the time, I was reading aloud from my Advent Bible Study by She Reads Truth. The devotional was on none other than than the passage from Luke 1:39-45 that surrounds pregnant Mary visiting her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-45)

For clear reasons, this passage hit me in a whole new way. I thought about pregnant Mary, with the Son of God in her womb, yet the same anticipation, fear, and hope that she was experiencing. As I processed this to Kevin, I felt the fluttering kicks in my own womb for the second time! Lydia again was reminding me that God was in control of her life. Since this time, I experience joy and relief every time I feel her move. I can feel her grow with the passing weeks. Her every move is a gift.

Around 20 weeks, which is exactly halfway through my pregnancy, I had my first sonogram and actually was able to see my baby move. I got to count her fingers and her toes and see the shape of her little tiny body. When the sonogram tech showed the profile of her face, I simply cried. Yet these tears were much different than the fear driven tears I had experienced that day in my office. These were tears of relief. God was finally changing my heart from fear of losing her to hope of her arrival.

 

F E A R . T O . H O P E .

The days that followed included our gender reveal and naming her, which you can read about in my last post: Naming Lydia Evelyn. This was a turning point in pregnancy and God has made His sovereign grace more clear to me with every passing day.

As if there could be any more meaning behind her name, here’s one more: Her name, Lydia Evelyn Tietz, will give her the initials L.E.T.

May her life be a constant reminder to me to
L E T . G O .
of my fears, my inadequacies, and my helpless attempts to take control
and
L E T . G O D .
restore my hope, be my strength, and allow Him to take control.

Since letting go and letting God, trusting Him wholly without fear, He has provided in an abundance of ways. In spite of the busiest time of year for my job, I’ve had family, friends and coworkers absolutely spoil us with baby showers and almost everything we need for Lydia’s arrival! He has provided Kevin and I time to make preparations, take classes at the hospital, and time to enjoy these last few months just the two of us. He continues to provide every day as I watch Lydia grow with each passing week.

With one month left, He has transformed my heart from fear to hope, and showed me more than ever that He, our Creator, is in ultimate control.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)